Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson, Television Personality. Norfolk, NE.

Johnny Carson, Television Personality. Norfolk, NE.

John William “Johnny” Carson (October 23, 1925 – January 23, 2005)
Carson is well known as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He and his family moved to Norfolk, Nebraska, when Johnny was eight. He attended the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in radio and speech with a minor in physics in 1949. He began his broadcasting career in 1950 at WOW radio and television in Omaha, Nebraska. One of his routines involved interviewing pigeons on the roof of the local courthouse that would allegedly report on the political corruption they had seen.
The wife of one of the Omaha political figures he spoofed owned stock in a radio station in Los Angeles and referred Carson to her brother, who was influential in the emerging television market in southern California. Later that year Carson went to work at CBS-owned Los Angeles television station KNXT. He would later joke that he owed his success to the birds of Omaha. Carson hosted several shows including Carson’s Cellar (1951-1953), the game show Earn Your Vacation (1954) and the variety show The Johnny Carson Show (1955–1956). He was a regular panelist on the original To Tell the Truth until (1962.)
Johnny Carson’s success on Who Do You Trust? led NBC to invite him to take over Tonight in 1962. Carson declined the offer because he feared the difficulty of interviewing celebrities for 1 3/4 hours (105 minutes) daily, but NBC asked him again after several other possible hosts declined. Carson accepted in March 1962. Tonight, later The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, ran from 1962-1992 and launched the careers of many performers, especially comedians. Carson retired from show business on May 22, 1992, at age 66, when he stepped down as host of The Tonight Show. His farewell was a major media event, often emotional for Carson, his colleagues, and the audiences, and stretched over several nights.

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